We honored and celebrated the life of my Granny today. She lived in Middle Tennessee for ninety-three years and made an impact on the lives of many and her legacy lives on. I guess I got to pull rank as the eldest grandchild - her first grandbaby - as she might say. I had the chance to share a wee bit of personal remembrance about the remarkable woman who was Lillie Esther Walker Pratt. Below is what I shared today with the friends and family who gathered to honor her.
My Granny was a woman of many words. I remember times when Mama would be cooking dinner - the noon meal - for all the men Daddy had helping out with hay or tobacco or something and Granny would call. Mama would listen for a bit. Then, she would lay the phone on the table and go stir something before coming back and murmuring an "Uh-Huh" or something to hold up her end of the conversation. I think Granny could talk to anybody about anything...for a long time. There are times when I believe my daughter, Bridgette, inherited this trait from her. I think there are times when Corey and Bridgette think Lydia inherited this trait, too. I'm sure that Mike would tell you that there are times when he believes I inherited it as well. I maintain that when it comes to talking, my Granny was in a class all by herself!
My Granny was a hard working woman. She didn't back up from most any chore. In one of her tales, she told about being assigned to milk the rogue, kicking cow right after she married Granddaddy. Not knowing this cow, Granny just eased up to her and got the job done. She never had a problem with the old gal and only learned later that she'd been set up.
My Granny was a smart woman. She had an interest in business when it wasn't fashionable or even really acceptable for women to be businesswomen. She studied statistics of milk production on the cows at their farm and studied statistics about bulls and selected matings in hopes of improving production, and thus, the bottom line on the farm. When Southeast Ventures came calling, she was ready with a figure to negotiate with them for their purchase of the farm at Cool Springs. She researched and studied most things before she ever made a decision or a purchase or a sale.
My Granny was a historian and she could tell about anybody in our family's dead ancestors in a six or seven-generation pedigree. Sometimes I worried that she might find out that Mike and I were some sort of distant cousins on the Williams or the Andrews branch of our family tree. I remember walking freshly plowed fields and picking up arrowheads from rich southern soil as she told me about folks who long ago also walked those fields. She loved history, particularly the history of this area and the people who populated it.
My Granny was into DIY long before Do-It-Yourself was trendy. She sewed garments out of flour sacks for my mother and her sisters. She grew flowers for bouquets to decorate tables for her Home Demonstration Club Luncheons. She mixed up flaky biscuits on an old enamel-topped cabinet for her family on a regular basis. She crocheted baby garments and coverlets once her grandchildren came along. Her goal was to make everything she created look hand-made not home-made. There was very little she didn't try and very seldom that her DIY efforts failed.
My Granny liked fine things and she wanted to share that with all of us. She grew up poor. Wherever a little wooden box set at the foot of a bed was where she called home as a little girl. So, when she had the opportunity as an adult, she sought to make her home something fine. She studied magazines and made annotations. She visited others and kept mental notes. Fine to her did not necessarily mean museum curated. Fine to my Granny might be a couple of nice little prints stumbled upon at a yard sale for a nickel and a dime. The color in them picked up a hue in a pillow that she put on the bed and coordinated everything together. Sometimes fine meant cross-stitching a beautiful turquoise and green quilt similar to one she had seen at a historic home because there was no way she could justify the cost of buying something like that. I remember her taking the quilt off the sawhorse quilt rack and billowing it across the bed in the front bedroom over on Mallory Lane. You would have thought that cotton coverlet was spun gold and silk.
My Granny spoiled us all as children. She was a busy woman but she always had time to sneak in a little something special for us. As a little girl she took me to downtown Nashville to Cain Sloan and Harvey's to see the carousel horses and shop for a new winter coat, patent leather shoes, or an Easter dress - store bought and fine. We ate at the lunch counter, dining on open-faced-roast-beef sandwiches and mashed potatoes or hand-made chicken salad. In later years we had luncheons at the Belle Meade Cafeteria - one of her favorite spots. Most recently, O'Charley's was a great outing - primarily for the free pie - she was a penny-pincher, you know. (I hope Aunt Mary's friends will keep her in mind and take her to O'Charley's for lunch and that free pie sometimes because I know she will miss her once per week trips with Granny.)
My Granny left her mark on all of us in many ways. From the tipped up nose that spans generations, to her love of growing things, to her hand-made not home-made style, to the twinkle in her eye that could also transform to a straighten-up stare. We lost a strong southern woman this past week but her impact will be felt on our family, in this community, and on the middle Tennessee area for years to come.